Using a well-known actress and a pig to protest about live animal
transportation meant that the serious message ran the risk of being
lost in frivolous sound bites and misguided sentimentality, says Jill
Rawlins, head of public relations at Somerfield.
A porky character and his mistress stepped out of a taxi outside the
House of Commons. And the snappers went wild. No, not another MP in
search of media attention. This is the story of the pig, the actress and
The pig in question is ‘Babe’, credited with anthropomorphic
characteristics by chum Joanna Lumley, who seemed to think the star of
her campaign to protest about the transportation of live animals in
Europe - had capabilities in the kitchen other than being laid in slices
on a plate, accompanied by chips and eggs.
The actress claimed - as reported in the Daily Telegraph - that ‘Babe
stayed at home with me all day yesterday. We cooked together...we went
for a walk’. Next it will be St Delia teaching chickens how to bake
aubergine surprise with a tomato coulis.
And it’s hard to take all these animal-related issues seriously when the
EC insists on first-class travel for, of all things, shellfish. The
mussels from Brussels must travel in style. Molluscs must not become
miserable is the ruling.
Call me unfeeling. But after only a year working in the food industry, I
have seen and heard many nutty things from people who, on one hand claim
they care passionately about something, but on the other are prepared to
risk the lives of people - sometimes children - by threats of
contamination. It gets very hard to separate those who really care about
a particular issue from those who simply love making other people’s
lives a misery with their so-called ‘campaigning’.
Call me old-fashioned too, but what can beat a good bit of House of
Commons lobbying? A bit of moral indignation always goes down well.
Compassion in World Farming presumably intended that Joanna would be the
vehicle to deliver the message. Dangerous ground. Here was a prime
example of the promotional ‘honey trap’ that went wrong. The actress got
the coverage, but who will remember the message, let alone the pig?
And pigs - they are difficult. The film Babe may have improved their
stature in the world pecking order, but, as my six-year-old daughter
said, as she saw the odd couple emerge from their taxi: ‘Pigs. They
stink.’ And I, on the whole, have to agree with her.